These days, it’s pretty easy to get upset with California government. It seems to do more harm than good. But sometimes it pays to remember the good things that have come out of Sacramento.
Certainly one of those good things is the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). This agency was created to actually help growers, and it often does a pretty good job of it. The agency’s stated mission is to promote and protect the food supply, enhance trade, and protect the environment. That’s a big charge, as California Farming is a huge and diverse industry.
As the first line of defense, CDFA treats our growing regions as geographic islands. These islands are separated from the rest of the country by a huge, dry and barren desert as well as high mountain ranges. These natural barriers protect our crops from invasive predators. It’s a system that works pretty well, until you bring people into the picture.
The agency needs to make sure that those pests aren’t brought in by travelers to our state. CDFA operates 16 border stations, where more than 20 million private vehicles and 7 million commercial vehicles are inspected each year. Inspectors reject more than 82,000 lots of plant material (fruits, vegetables, potted plants, etc) each year for violations of California or federal plant quarantine laws.
The inspectors also look for fruit flies, which are a constant threat. Not only fruits, but vegetables, nuts, some row crops are also targets of these tiny enemies. Last year, 137 fruit fly detection’s were made at these border stations.
Another big interest for CDFA is Huanglongbing or HLB, which has devastated citrus in Florida and around the world. Last year, the agency sampled over 72,000 citrus plants in California for the disease or for its carrier, a tiny insect called Ascian Citrus Psyllid. They set out 52,000 traps and found more than 2,000 of these tiny insects, most in back yards. Several citrus trees in residential areas were removed and quarantine areas were set.
It’s good to know there’s at least one agency that will help instead of hinder the growth of agriculture in our state.
I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West and Citrus Industry Magazine. Visit us on the web at www.citrusindustry.net.
About the Author
Len Wilcox is a retired scientist who also ran a newspaper and has written for agricultural publications since the 1980s. He was a regular contributor to California Farmer Magazine. His commentary “The Western View” is a regular feature on Farm City Newsday and AgNet West.